Sunday, October 2, 2011

News Brief: Parents Fear Health Care Law Could Derail Autism Coverage

Lucia Joseph

The annual cost of caring for a child with autism, a medical and educational endeavor including physical and occupational therapy as well as behavioral analysis, can run upwards of $50,000. Many families rely on state mandates (present in 26 states around the country) which force health insurers to pay for autism services as a way to continue treatment for their children. Insurance companies claim that state laws mandating autism coverage boost premiums for all persons insured, but for families saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on otherwise unsustainable costs, the 1 to 3% hikes are worth it.
Unfortunately, these mandates are at risk of disappearing due to the 2010 federal overhaul healthcare law which gave federal government the right to designate what “benefits” will be offered by health insurers to individuals and small businesses. In other words, while in the past “[autism] mandates have been a way for states to be doing something on a major issue without money coming out of the state treasury,” after the overhaul bill comes into effect states will have to pay for anything they mandate which is not present on the list of federal benefits. It’s unclear how the government will determine its list of benefits, or whether the Department of Health and Human Services will play a role, so for now, families caring for autistic children just have to wait and see.

Reference: Galewitz, Phil. "Parents Fear Health Law Could Derail Autism Coverage." Kaiser Health News. Web. . Sep 24 2011
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